What a difference one game can make. Following Auburn's win against New Mexico in Game 1 of the Diamond Head Classic, confidence was high and everyone was excited about the possibilities for the trip to Hawaii. Then the game against Harvard happened.
Auburn has to try to bounce back from what is one of the worst showings of the season against the Crimson, and possibly do it without one of the best players on the team in TJ Dunans. Dunans left the Harvard game with an injury, and while it apparently wasn't as bad as it seemed, it's still unlikely he plays against the home team Hawaii.
Hawaii meanwhile is coming off a very close game against Oklahoma, a Top 5 team. They also knocked off Northern Iowa in impressive fashion in their first game of the event, and UNI has two victories over opponents ranked very high to their own credit. The Rainbow Warriors are 8-2 so far this season, with their lone other loss being at Texas Tech.
Auburn and Hawaii have one common opponent so far this season, as both have faced the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Hawaii defeated them 74-63 on their home court, while Auburn played a close game against the Chanticleers in Conway.
Hawaii and Auburn match up well in size, and are fairly close in the statistical departments, as well. Given the level of play against UNI and Oklahoma on top of this being a home game for the Rainbow Warriors, this is going to be a very tough test for the Tigers. It will be especially tough game if Dunans is unable to go, as Auburn is already very limited due to other injuries. Bruce Pearl noted in the post-game interview after the Harvard game that Auburn's fortunes have been tied to TJ Dunans' play on the court all season long. The games he's played well in, Auburn has won. Those he hasn't, Auburn has lost.
The starting line-up against Hawaii will be interesting, to say the least. Kareem Canty will likely handle the Point Guard duties. Will we see freshman Bryce Brown get his first start? Will Bowers come off the bench again even after he led the team in scoring against Harvard and is on a streak of games with a double-double?
This will be Auburn's last out-of-conference game before the SEC schedule starts next Saturday against Tennessee. A poor performance could definitely set Auburn back. A big win, however, could help propel them into conference play with a fair bit of confidence.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen
Time: 5:30 pm Central
TV: ESPN 2
Stream: Watch ESPN